Set List Bonus: 27th Annual Long Beach Bayou & Blues Festival

Set List Bonus: 27th Annual Long Beach Bayou & Blues Festival

  • Big Jay McNeely
    Photo: Courtesy of the Long Beach Bayou & Blues Festival
  • Ray Goren
    Photo: Courtesy of the Long Beach Bayou & Blues Festival

Welcome to The Set List. Here you'll find the latest concert recaps for many of your favorite, or maybe not so favorite, artists. Our bloggers will do their best to provide you with every detail of the show, from which songs were on the set list to what the artist was wearing to which out-of-control fan made a scene. Hey, it'll be like you were there. And if you like what you read, we'll even let you know where you can catch the artist on tour. Feel free to drop us a comment and let us know your concert experience. Oh, and rock on.

By Kourtney Richard
Long Beach, Calif.

Growing up in the South, I did not hesitate to attend the 27th Annual Long Beach Bayou & Blues Festival, which took place June 22–23 at Rainbow Lagoon Park in Long Beach, Calif. As I entered the festival to the sound of a Mardi Gras parade and the smell of Cajun spices, I knew this would be a memorable experience.

I made my way through the crowd and spotted numerous food vendors, activity centers for children, pop-up stores, and two large stages standing opposite one another. One stage was dedicated to blues artists while the other showcased jazz and zydeco performers. As people gathered to watch some of each genre's most talented musicians, I couldn't help but think how influential this music is. 

Each genre totally American, and at the root of rock, R&B and so much more. Most of the songs performed offered a liberating vibe, allowing attendees to let loose and dance to every beat. People of all backgrounds were there to celebrate and enjoy the sweet sounds of bayou classics and blues while enjoying some of the finest home-cooked Southern foods. 

After exploring the festival ground, I caught saxist Big Jay McNeely's performance. McNeely gained fame in the '50s and into the early '60s, beginning with his first single, 1949's "The Deacon's Hop." Dressed in all white, McNeely delivered an amazing performance that gave the crowd what they wanted — a song to dance to.

Adjacent to the Bayou Stage, I indulged in some Creole food while watching people learn how to dance to zydeco. As I watched attendees dance to the loud accordion and trombone, I noticed it wasn't that hard to do. I took a leap of faith and entered the dance floor and caught on quick.

Later that evening at approximately 7 p.m., I caught 13-year-old blues guitarist Ray Goren perform. He was more than amazing; he was probably one of the most talented young guitarists I've ever seen. The crowd grew as he performed. Before I knew it, I was standing on my toes to see this young soulful musician. He performed some classic covers such as B.B. King's "Rock Me Baby," Freddie King's "Going Down" and Prince's "Purple Rain." I later learned that Goren's musical epiphany came while surfing the Web when he stumbled on a clip of King, Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, Albert Collins, and Jeff Beck performing "Sweet Little Angel." Goren said he felt something that he never felt before and still doesn't have words to describe.

That's one of the great things about music. Sometimes it's so great it leaves you speechless. Other performers taking the stage throughout the weekend included the Pine Leaf Boys, Brian Jack And The Zydeco Gamblers, Bernie Pearl, Sunpie And The Louisiana Sunspots, Jo Jo Reed And The Happy Hill Zydeco Band, and Peter Tork And Shoe Suede Blues.

(Kourtney Richard is the Project Manager at The Recording Academy in Santa Monica, Calif.  Her previous work includes entertainment reporting and writing for networks such as Vh1 and BET. Richard also blogs for some of your favorite celebrity-driven sites. You can view some of her current work at www.kourtneyrichard.com.)

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